Barry Ritholtz: ‘Why Apple Should Buy Netflix’

Barry Ritholtz, writing for Bloomberg:

I try not to give billionaires or corporate managers unsolicited advice on what they should do with their money. Warren Buffett and Apple Inc. both have done rather well for themselves and their investors without my help. Today, I violate my own rule: Apple should buy Netflix Inc. in an all-stock deal for about $100 billion. […]

The upsides for Apple are fairly obvious; the biggest downside is the cost. If anything, it might spare us the boring quarterly routine of analysts expecting soft iPhone sales and then being shocked when the company beats to the upside.

If Apple passes on Netflix, don’t be surprised if Amazon does not. That alone is reason to make the purchase.

Usually when someone proposes Apple make a huge acquisition, I hurt my eyes by rolling them so far back in my head. I remain unconvinced that Apple should buy Netflix, but I don’t roll my eyes at the notion.

I think the main problem is that there’s nothing magical about Netflix. Surely Apple could buy HBO for less money than Netflix would cost, and I would put HBO’s original content up against Netflix’s any day. I also think it’s a mistake to underestimate Apple’s ability to build its own first-class original content streaming service based on the crappy shows it’s released to date. A couple of more deals like the Amazing Stories one with Steven Spielberg and they’ll already have a foot in the game — for way less than the $100 billion it would take to buy Netflix.

And, just as I was about to publish this post, this just in: Apple has announced a deal for a two-season scripted TV series starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon as competing morning TV show hosts, with House of Cards producer Jay Carson writing the pilot and serving as showrunner.

Ritholtz (and others, like Om Malik and Ben Thompson) argue that Apple’s incredible cash hoard would allow them to make an expensive acquisition like Netflix. My argument is that Apple’s cash hoard would allow them to outbid the competition for the best new shows. Make Apple Studios the place where top notch talent takes new pitches first, knowing they’ll get paid top dollar and treated well. The trick isn’t the money — the trick is hiring the right executives to identify the best new shows.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017